High blood pressure causes: Does hot weather raise risk of hypertension ?

High blood pressure, or hypertension, may be linked to controllable factors such as diet and amount of exercise, or factors beyond someone’s control, including age and ethnic group.

However, the weather can also alter your blood pressure levels.

Being in hot weather and glorious sunshine for a long period of time can actually lower blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Sheldon Sheps, a former member of the Clinic’s Department of Medicine said, “blood pressure is generally higher in the winter and lower in the summer”.

Higher temperatures cause blood vessels to dilate, or expand, as the body tries to reduce its internal temperature. This creates more space in arteries and veins, causing a drop in blood pressure levels.

Explaining how the system works in cold weather, Sheldon wrote: “Blood pressure is higher as low temperatures cause your blood vessels to narrow.

“This increases blood pressure because more pressure is needed to force blood through your narrowed blood vessels.”

Sheldon added blood pressure can be affected by a “sudden change” in weather patterns.

“Your body – and blood vessels – may react abruptly to a rapid change in humidity, atmospheric pressure, cloud cover or wind in much the same way it reacts to cold.

“These weather-related variations in blood pressure are more common in people age 65 and older.”

He also noted a possible weight gain and decrease in physical activity during winter months can raise blood pressure.

A 2013 study from the University of Glasgow found cold weather can affect high blood pressure.

Measuring the blood pressure level in 169,000 people between 1970 and 2011, researchers tested whether readings changed depending on the blood pressure.

Responding to the study, Blood Pressure UK said: “It is really interesting to know there may be a relationship between the weather and blood pressure.

“However until we can control the weather, we can still rely on more traditional ways of controlling our blood pressure, such as eating more fruit and vegetables, less salt and alcohol, and taking more exercise.

“Even if the sun isn’t shining, we would advise going for a brisk walk as a more reliable way of reducing your long term blood pressure.”

Your risk of having a heart attack may also fall due to hot weather.

The British Heart Foundation said online: “Cold weather can put your health at risk, especially if you have a heart condition.

“Cold weather makes your heart work harder to keep your body warm, so your heart rate and blood pressure may increase. These changes can cause heart problems, especially if you already have a heart condition.”

High blood pressure is diagnosed with a reading over 140/90 mmHg. Blood pressure tests are often carried out by GPs, where they should be done in both arms, or through an at home blood pressure measuring device.

Summer foods which can lower your blood pressure include strawberries, blueberries and avocados.


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